MLK- Make the ghetto go away, and work together

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I will post a few words from a speech he gave while visiting the Shaw neighborhood back in 1967.

Of course, we all recognize that if we are ultimately to improve psychological and physical conditions for minorities there must be total elimination of ghettoes and the establishment of a truly integrated society. In the meantime, however, all those working for economic and social justice are forced to address themselves to interim programs which, while not totally changing the situation, will nevertheless bring about improvement in the lives of those forced to live in ghettoes. And so, whiel [sic] many of those steps may lead to limited integration, those which do not must clearly be seen as interim steps until the objective situation makes a more fundamental approach.

and later

… Labor, Housing and the Office of Economic Opportunity, ought to work with the people of Shaw in developing, coordinating and concentrating their various programs upon social and economic problems of this area.

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at a March 13, 1967 rally for Shaw


I hope that reading this one can see the importance of integration. Segregating off into little ethnic and racial neighborhoods separate from other residents is not good for us as a whole. We need to unite and work together for the good.

New Year, New Job, New Goals 2022

Last year I moved out of Truxton Circle after selling my home of 19 years to the wilds of PG County. Despite that I am still the world’s expert on Truxton Circle History and it is not a skill I will be giving up anytime soon.

Speaking of skills, doing the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle series, has helped me get a new job. Nineteen seems to be a magic number, as I worked in the same Bureau of Fight Club (they are funny and don’t want me to talk about them) department for 19 years. This weekly, sometimes daily, habit of hunting down people, possibly long dead, and writing up a quick biography has developed a skill of a quickie genealogist. It was a skill I could point to in my job interview, semi paraphrasing Liam Neeson in Taken:

I do have a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. If you are obviously still alive, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will protect your privacy. But if I’m not sure, I will look for you, I will find you, and I make sure you are dead.

It’s easier to do the job if the persons in the document are dead.

However, the new work environment will be a bit more restrictive. I don’t know how much attention I can pay to this site. I do know that I will no longer have access to the primary records related to Shaw and Washington, DC history, as I did with the old job.

I hope that I can work on a few new projects. I have warned that I will look at Squares 552 and 615, the core Bates area of the TC, and because my past research has been used for historic preservation/landmark, I want present owners to make the changes they can now before any restrictions come. There is also a journal article I want to write, but I have to figure out what story the data I’ve cobbled together actually says.

I’m a little sad that my job move means I won’t be exploring the history of DC public housing. Once upon a time public housing didn’t suck, and wasn’t shorthand for crappy crime ridden living conditions. But now it is, what it is.

The new job does pay more…. so I could conceivably hire someone to do the leg work of scanning those records.



1957 Church Survey: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

I’ve been holding off on this one because it was my church. It was the church of the Glorius family and several other Truxton Circle families of many years past.

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle. One of the churches was Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

When I was a member Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was a racially mixed church and in 1957 it was mixed, 25% Black and 75% White.

This was not without some complications.

CS 28 Immaculate Conception by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Image not found
Sq. 423 circa 1919, showing the lots Immaculate Conception owns.

There was more of Immaculate in 1957 than there is now. There used to be more lots, including land where the 1300 Apartments (formerly the Immaculate Conception Apartments) parking lot sits. They also had a parking lot across the street. They had parking for 100 cars. It was much bigger in the day.

Currently there are 4 weekend masses. In 1957 they stated they had 1,600 for Sunday attendance for a sanctuary that seats 900 people.

They had 3 priests in 1957. Now there is sort of 2, after having just one for the longest time. Monsignor J. Joshua Mundell was the priest in charge during the 1968 riots. Speaking of the priests, here is a list of priests.

The church had a school serving children in the neighborhood. It was sometime in the years Monsignor Watkins when the school was closed and was later converted into a charter school.

There is no professional break down of the parishioners. That would have been nice if they had that info.

1957 Church Survey: Galbraith AME Church

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the Union Station area. One of the churches was Galbraith AME Church, now Galbraith AME Zion Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

CS 21 Galbraith AME by Mm Inshaw

 The church sits at 1114 6th St NW. Is it in Shaw? Is it in Mt. Vernon Square? Sure, yes.

Anyway, this was a Black church with a large white collar membership who did not live in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area.

Rando Truxton & Shaw History- Alleys

I’m going to make this a quick one. Here is part of a pathfinder survey from 1936 of alleys in DC. I picked out some Shaw related alleys. It says were the alleys are, as in which city square they are located, how many alley dwellings there were and how many of those were occupied by people. The point was to kick people out of their alley homes.

DC Alleys ShawAlleys1936 by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Source: National Archives and Records Admin. Washington, DC. Record Group 302, entry 3, maybe file Pathfinder Survey (1936).

1957 Church Survey: John Wesley AME Church

This church is the one next to Le Diplomat.

Back in 1957 there was a survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, a precursor to the Shaw Urban Renewal Area, and John Wesley AME was one of the churches surveyed. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

photo of property

John Wesley AME is still at the corner of Corcoran and 14th St NW at 1615 14th St NW. It is still a Black church. However there has been a slight name change, they added Zion after AME. Their church history doesn’t tell when the name change came about.

In 1957, John Wesley AME was a big church claiming 4,000 members. With most of those members living in other parts of NW Washington, DC.

CS 24 John Wesley AME by Mm Inshaw


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Mary Armistead -1223 NJ Ave NW

This is part of a long series of posts about African Americans who were home owners in the Truxton Circle neighborhood.

In the 1920 census Mary Armistead is listed as a doctor. According to the census she lived at 1223 New Jersey Ave NW with her cousin Mary E. Griffin, a widowed teacher, Sarah Tolliver, another widowed cousin, and boarders, the Martin family and Ester AB Popel.

photo of property

There aren’t a lot of land records for this property. The first record is a release from 1923, listing Mary E. Armistead and her cousin Mary E. Griffin as joint tenants. The release was for an August 1917 debt with a trustee. The next record is a 1951 trust. From the document we are told Mary E. Griffin was deceased (and we can assume so is the unnamed Mary E. Armistead) and Mabel A. Griffin Lewis was the owner. Ms. Griffin-Lewis borrowed $3000 from the National Savings and Trust Company. Griffin-Lewis died and her executor Beulah J Murphy sold the property in 1978.

According to the 1919 city directory, Mary Armistead was a midwife and the widow of Howard M. Armistead (former Government Printing Office worker). According to FindaGrave her obit read as:

Evening Star
Washington, DC
30 Aug 1934

ARMISTEAD, MARY E. On Tuesday. August 28, 1934, at her residence, 1223 New Jersey ave, n.w.. MARY E. ARMISTEAD, widow of Howard M. Armistead, devoted sister of J. Randolph Minor and James L. Minor, cousin of Mary E Griffin. She is also survived by many other relatives and friends. Remains resting at the John T. Rhines funeral chapel. 3rd and Eye sts. s.w., until Thursday evening: thereafter at her late residence. Funeral Friday, August 31, at 1 pm. from Israel C M E. Church, New Jersey ave. and Morgan st..n.w. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery.

In the 1910 census she was working in the medical field in Obstetrics and living at 1320 Montello Ave NE (Sq. 4064 lot 0037) in a house she owned. So back to the land records to see what other properties she owned and I found 317 10th St SE (Sq. 0945 lot 0823/007) in the Eastern Market area.

If she used her maiden name as a middle initial she could be the same Mary M. Armistead who is listed as a registered midwife in the Report of the Health Officer By District of Columbia. Health Department · 1895 working out of 1343 K St SE.

Sorry this post is all over the place. I went down the wrong rabbit hole chasing this woman.

1957 Church Survey: Church of Ascension and St. Agnes

When I last visited Ascension & St. Agnes, many years ago, it was an Episcopal church offering a high church service. It is located at 1215 Massachusetts Ave NW.  It’s in Mt. Vernon Sq, but I’m going to count it as a Shaw church.

Anywho, this church was part of the 1957 Church Survey for a urban renewal area that got broken into other parts, such as Downtown and Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

It was pretty much a White church when I visited and was so in 1957. It’s parish boundaries were pretty much that of the map above, but they said they drew their membership from all over the metro area, as the greatest bulk came from Maryland and Virginia.

CS-33-Church of Ascension a… by Mm Inshaw



1957 Church Survey: Miles Memorial CME- Rando church outside of Shaw

The address, 1110 3rd St NW where this church sat doesn’t exist anymore. Miles Memorial Church CME, currently sits at 501 N St NW, in Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

The former location of this church appears to be some spot behind the Bible Way church…. a church also in the 1957 Church Survey, but I hadn’t gotten to it.

The pastor, Rev. Raymond L. Calhoun, lived at 210 N St NW, in that spot where Truxton Circle and Mt. Vernon Square are the same. I wonder if he’ll show up in my studies.

Then like now, it was a Black American church. Most of the other information was kind of vague. So I’m just going to post it.

CS 25 Miles Memorial CME by Mm Inshaw

George Basiliko Keeps Showing Up in My Truxton Circle Property Searches Pt 2

When we last left I was looking at an Evening Star article in 1959 about George B. Basiliko’s plans to rehabilitate several Truxton Circle homes. The thing that caught my eye was that these homes were the subject of a post-Home Rule later rehabilitation project that was to take place in the Marion Barry years.

I decided to expand my research to the Washington Post and the Post calls Basiliko a slum lord. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to 1959 and what the Evening Star said.

The October 3, 1959 article, Basiliko, with the help of of the Perpetual Building Association was supposed to rehabilitate 125 units. Several of those units in Truxton Circle. His target areas were specifically the 100 block of O St NW, the 100-200 blocks of Q and Bates Streets NW, the 200 block of P St and outside of the TC but in Shaw the 400 block of Warner. Despite the press, he did Jack.

The more I got into the Washington Post and Evening Star, I don’t know if disgusted or overwhelmed would describe it. Because it opened up a Pandora’s box relating to greater Shaw’s slum history. He profited off it. His target renters were African Americans. When he was found guilty of 8,000 housing violations, Basiliko and the city hashed out a deal. The Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) bought many of his Shaw properties. And as far as I could tell he avoided jail time.

The Truxton Circle houses he sold to RLA were 47 row houses on Bates Street, 8 on P St, 9 on Q, and 8 on 3rd. He also sold one house on French Street and 33 properties on the block bounded by 8th, 9th, S and T Streets, in Shaw. It appears the money RLA used came from HUD.

One of those P street houses was probably 229 P St NW. It was featured in an article about the 8,000 housing violations. There were holes in the ceiling and the walls. There was defective wiring, plumbing, rotted stairs and missing doorknobs.

The RLA paid Basiliko $1.1 million in 1970 for 106 Shaw properties. What RLA did or didn’t do, is another story for another time.